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Friday, May 1, 2015

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Calvin PEETE (48D: Calvin of the P.G.A.) —
Calvin Peete, whose life traced one of sport’s most triumphant arcs — a school dropout with a crooked left arm who did not pick up a golf club until his 20s, did not join the pro tour until his 30s, and still became one of the leading players of his era and the most successful black professional golfer before Tiger Woods — has died. He was 71. (from PEETE's NYT obituary, published yesterday)
• • •

A writer friend of mine wrote me yesterday:
... can you explain why anyone gives a crap about symmetry in crossword puzzles?  This is a really odd phenomenon, to me.  I don't see how it adds anything except a very faint sense of order and elegance, but it seems to me it comes at enormous expense. 

What expense?  Well, the need, for example, to have "corners," which often mean a lot of short clues or whatever.   Not being a constructor, I am ignorant here, really, but wouldn't all sorts of creativity be opened up if we gave up the rawther stuffy conceit of symmetry?
It seems to me to be the equivalent of rhyme to poetry, only way less satisfying. 
I print this query here both because I think it's worth thinking about what purpose conventions serve, and because today's puzzle is itself a convention-breaker. Like rotational symmetry, the 15x15 grid size (Mon-Sat) is a convention. The size convention, though, has at least some practical basis, namely that the crossword, having been (and still, for many, being) a part of a newspaper environment, it must fit within a designated, limited space. Now, as puzzles move increasingly to the digital realm, this size constraint is likely to seem more and more anachronistic—a convention based on limitations that no longer exist. But as long as the crossword is made for publication in newspapers, size will matter. Still—why 15? why not 16? Today's puzzle reminds us of how arbitrary the 15x15 convention is. Expand the grid by one column, and an entire new universe of answers opens up. We sometimes see the wider (or narrower) grid in themed puzzles, where the conceit, or some marquee themer, makes the expansion (or contraction) necessary. But we don't see it in themelesses. I'm not saying we never have, but I can't remember when we have. And today's puzzle makes a good argument for opening the 16 floodgates. Think of all the damn 15 stacks we've seen over the years. Maybe it's not the stack itself that's played out—maybe it's the reservoir of available answers. Actually, I think all long stacks are at least slightly dangerous—they're likely to get you into similar problems with overall fill quality, so maybe my enthusiasm should be slightly qualified. But think of the 16 as a vast reservoir that has yet to be tapped. A precious, non-renewable resource that we can exploit for our immediate gratification. I welcome the New Age of the 16-wide themeless. I am certain to eat those words in the not-too-distant future, but for now, lead on, young pioneer Steinberg. Even if it ends up not being any better than the 15-wide, there's no reason it should be any worse, and if nothing else, it's different. Different Is Good.

That said, MONTE CARLO CASINO has "green paint"* painted all over it. But then, *that* said, the rest of this grid is Fantastic. All the other 16s are Good to Great, and though you have some (predictable) wincers in the short crosses (quoth the raven, MNEMvermore), the trade-off is more than worth it. FEROCIOUS ANGEL DUST livens up the center (which, mercifully, doesn't feature a third 16 stack), the grid even manages to squeeze in some interesting longer Downs like JESUS ALOU and HOT SPRING and JAM JAR, which, OK, isn't "longer," but it's still cool. Only real downside for me today was how easy this thing was. I got Downs 1 through 4 in quick succession, with no hesitation, and that pretty much blew open the top section. From there I found it really easy to send out long tentacles into all the sections of the grid. Here's a pic of my progress just after the 1/3 mark:

I didn't know the "S" is "lasik" was SITU, and I didn't get that "Brit" was a first name, and so I had a brief moment of "???" at SITU / HUME, but otherwise, this thing flew by. After I sewed up the middle, driving down into the bottom was simply no problem at all:

At that point I hadn't even looked at the 16s down below. Look how much of a jump I have on them. Needless to say, they were easy to pick off. So this could've been tougher, but otherwise, it was delightful. Unleash the 16s! (Oh, and if you're so inclined, let me know what you think about the symmetry question I opened with)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*"green paint" is the term for a crossword answer that is more arbitrary word pairing than solid, stand-alone answer.

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


jj 12:14 AM  

I thought the same about MONTE CARLO CASINO at first, but a quick googling reveals it's an actual standalone place. So not merely as arbitrary as, say LAS VEGAS CASINO may be.

wreck 12:15 AM  

I thought "triple stacks" were now tabu, but after reading xwordinfo, I guess not. This was really tough for me as I made several passes with only a handful of "penciled-in" answers. I had so many "cheats" to even get a foothold that I hesitate to even comment on this one. On reflection, it was a nice puzzle - just really in my "outhouse."

wreck 12:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 12:20 AM  

PS - I did guess LEMMONMERINGUEPIE correctly right off the bat!

wreck 12:30 AM  


(3 and out early!)

Zeke 12:34 AM  

You'll retract your new-found love of 16's the first time SCARLETPIMPERNEL shows up

Raoul Duke 12:57 AM  

The thing I enjoy about stack puzzles is that it's a different solving experience.

You see all the white space, take a deep breath, then start chipping away at those little threes and fours. Then gradually phrases begin to emerge (for this one, it was ESCAPE, seemed obvious, then MONTE CARLO something, drawing on my knowledge of Bond movies, as I know nothing of the French Riviera).

Then the whole thing comes tumbling down, and you're typing in letters as quickly as you can, even dumb stuff like MNEM.

I wouldn't want to do a stack puzzle every day, or even every week, but once in awhile it's fun when it's well-designed, like David did today.

Steve J 12:58 AM  

Satisfaction level of piecing this together after several points where I thought I had nothing or was stuck: Very high.

Satisfaction with the long answers: Mostly high. MONTE CARLO CASINO isn't the only green paint (@jj: The one in Vegas isn't on the Riviera, obviously, so it's green paint in this puzzle). ESCAPE MECHANISMS fits the bill too (as opposed to specific things like escape pods, escape hatches, etc.) At first, when I just had the first E, I tried to see if ejector seats would work, but it was too short. But outside those two, all the 16s are nice to very good.

Satisfaction with the fill that enabled the long answers: not even a little high. MNEM, ISTHMI, ROEG, UTILE, APO, UNS, ERTE (even with its "I know this is crosswordese" clue), JOTTER.

Satisfaction overall: Medium-high. I usually dislike triple- and quadruple-stacks, but this was mostly enjoyable. (@wreck: It's just the triple-triples that are now considered passé by Shortz.)

RAD2626 1:00 AM  

Agree with the write up. Thought puzzle was a delight. Cluing was clever, 16's were clever and gettable and crosses were good. MONTE CARLO CASINO if it is green paint, is so only because of cluing. "Home to Riviera Rollers" or something more clever than I can come up with would legitimize it. Had "cURLS" for long time which made the center tougher than it had to be.

Benko 1:15 AM  

I don't see how MONTE CARLO CASINO is "green paint". It's the name of a casino (well, not in French, but close enough). It's like saying "Four Seasons Hotel" is green paint. There's nothing arbitrary about that combination of words.

Benko 1:17 AM  

Oh yeah, and this is the first sentence that came up when I just googled "Monte Carlo":

"Monte Carlo officially refers to an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco, specifically the ward of Monte Carlo/Spélugues, where the Monte Carlo Casino is located."

Questinia 1:19 AM  


Steve J 1:26 AM  

@Benko: I was all set to say that, not clued to the Vegas casino, MONTE CARLO CASINO was as generic as "New York Hotel," but then you posted your second post. I didn't realize there was an actual Monte Carlo Casino in Monte Carlo. I stand corrected.

jae 1:33 AM  

Easy  for me too. My only erasure was clay before KILN.  The LAT Thursday and the BEQ Thursday were both tougher than this one.

@Questina - Headline:  DS channels MAS with a twist.

Some zippy 16s, light on the dreck (although JOTTER?), the complete ALOU, ATINGLE, got to like it.

Elle54 1:36 AM  

I liked it too

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

Very strange that Calvin Peete died yesterday.

Charles in Austin 1:42 AM  

I give a crap about symmetry. Also the sonnet form in poetry, etc.

thursdaysd 1:58 AM  

The only time I care about symmetry is when I'm doing a rebus puzzle, and I hope the rebuses are symmetrical. Otherwise I don't even notice. But I grew up doing English cryptics with quite different conventions.

Surprised people didn't know about the Monte Carlo Casino - has "the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo" been forgotten too? But then, I'd never heard of Peete.

Moly Shu 2:18 AM  

mattyALOU (now I'm supposed to know which one is youngest?)and ACTedON first gave me some trouble. The latter left me with a strange incarnation of MERINGUE. Once I corrected those errors it was easy and smooth sailing. Think I also had teakettle before HOTSPRING, but that wasn't much of a problem. Just enough gimmies to make this mostly easy, ERLE, HUME, ELLERY, AKEEM, PEETE, I'm looking at you guys. Learned what the plural of ISTHMUS is.

Anonymous 2:57 AM  

Didn't know the excellent TV journalist Brit HUME, huh? One hopes another might deign to get out of one's political bubble--in other words, stop watching MSNBC, for crying out loud.

Other than that minor point, great review and agree wholeheartedly. This was one of the more entertaining Friday puzzles I've seen in a while, even though it was way too easy.

The NYT puzzle has gotten into a rut. Since
I've learned enough crosswordese to fly through lately, it's not as fun as it once was.


Anonymous 3:03 AM  

My conservative nature forces me to say that symmetry = goodness. But my libertarian nature says open it up and let's see what happens!


Charles Flaster 3:24 AM  

Liked this EZ Friday and totally agree with Rex.
Any puzzle with JESUS ALOU has to rock.
Overall, the cluing was highly polished but especially liked HATS, MARES, IDEA and DIAL.
Started the solve with EMTS that lead to ESCAPE... and the puzzle flow joyously began.
Tomorrow , hoping for a Kentucky Derby theme and a mention of the May-Pac fight.
Thanks DS.

Ellen S 4:24 AM  

I liked it. Easy for me except DNF thanks to the P_ETE / AKE_M crossing. Oh, and not being able to spell: METRaPOLITAN AREA. Ouch.

Thanks, David.

Z 5:10 AM  

Pretty challenging here, but mostly self-imposed.

On the MCM issue, feels like green paint here. @Benko's citation just makes it worse. What else is MONTE CARLO but home to a casino? Omit CASINO and I still think of James Bond playing Bacarat. Still, it's not the greenest paint and I agree that the other 16s are pretty good.

There are word puzzles that don't follow the crossword structure, yet I'm hard pressed to think of one that doesn't have some form of symmetry as a typical feature. Hmm, worth pondering some more.

John Child 5:11 AM  

Hi Friends. Please excuse my being off-topic this morning.

Most of Kathmandu has power and internet service. The temporary camps are diminishing: Folks either feel safe enough to go back home or they've left the capital to check on or stay with friends or family. Estimates of those who've left temporarily range from 100,000 to several times that number.

Kathmandu is substantially back to normal, but out in the countryside many villages have suffered serious damage and have had little or no relief yet. The issue is poor logistics and management: There's money and stuff, but incompetent execution. (This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows a little about Nepal.)

Current estimates here are 6,000 dead, 10,000 serious injuries, and 100,000 homes unusable. That's awful, and those numbers will go up as relief efforts reach places that are hours or days from the nearest road. But even if they double, fewer than three percent of Nepalis will have been directly affected. That's astonishing good luck, all things considered. It could have been ever so much worse.

Quake map here for anyone interested.

Thank you all for your expressions of concern and support here and by email. It made a difference. I've had questions about how to help or donate. If you are inclined to act now I suggest a large organization like the International Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders. But given that there is, for the time being, money and equipment sitting unused, perhaps it would be best to wait a few weeks to see where the need is greatest and who is doing the most useful work. The country's long-term needs will be enormous.

GILL I. 5:19 AM  

WOW David...Just wow.!
Remember when Mon/Tue themes were only 3 answers long? Now we get maybe 5 on a good day....Why stop at 16 - let's go for some good stuff at 17. Is this smarty pants the first to do this? Hey @Will, thanks for giving us a terrific change.
MONTE CARLO CASINO is where I lost my gambling virginity at the tender age of 17. My parents had a place in Nice so a hop-skip and jump away was one of the most gorgeous CASINOs in the world. I wore my first brown silk long dress and I sat next to the handsomest guy in the room playing black jack. He died several deaths every time I would slide my cards for another hit at 18...
PEETE Calvin...RIP. What fun to watch him.
I'm so proud I got JESUS ALOU.
Good, good job David Steinberg...Can't wait for the 17's..

George Barany 6:32 AM  

Before all else, how reassuring to get a detailed report about the situation in Nepal from our friend @John Child.

Congratulations to @David Steinberg for this themeless puzzle, which--as pointed out by @Rex--taps into relatively new phrases by widening the canonical width for weekday puzzles. It was definitely eerie for the puzzle to run the day after the New York Times obituary for Calvin PEETE, but even @Will Shortz is not that prescient in his scheduling.

The three ALOU brothers, Felipe, Matty, and JESUS (and for that matter, the next generation, Moises) all had distinguished baseball careers, but to me the most interesting factoid about them will always be that, representing the San Francisco Giants, the brothers made all three outs in the 8th inning of a September 10, 1963 game against the New York Mets. That day actually marked Jesus' major league debut, and 5 days later, the three brothers all patrolled the Giants' outfield at the same time.

"Provider of an A in English?" was a diabolically clever clue for THE_SCARLET_LETTER, the Hawthorne novel that we were forced to read in junior high school at a time when its themes meant nothing to our demographic. Add that to a list (which does not include Melville's "Moby-Dick") of books that I hope to reread eventually with an adult perspective. I would be curious to know whether either of those books are on the required reading list at @David Steinberg's high school.

Danp 7:10 AM  

Triple stacks with no ONES? Is that legal?

Masked and Anonym007Us 7:28 AM  

Judge Smails: What did you shoot today, Ty?
Ty Webb: I don't keep score, Judge.
Judge Smails: Well, then how do you compare yourself to other golfers?
Ty Webb: By height.

Once made an asymmetric runtpuz. And then the next one was symmetric with that earlier one. Nobody noticed, tho. Ten minutes of extra work, down the drain...


s.o.t.r., someplace.

Hartley70 7:33 AM  

This was one of my fastest Fridays ever. I really enjoy stacks and usually find the long answers tough to suss out, but in this case it took one guess and I was home. I had to struggle a bit with the sports names and the "Coming to America" character, but otherwise it was EASYTOUNDERSTAND.

I was at the Monte Carlo Casino one night in 1978, hoping to experience the glamour of a Bond movie. The building was gorgeous but the casino atmosphere was such a letdown. The space was full of motley gamblers in various stages of disarray. There was nary a long brown silk dress or a tuxedo to be seen. Quel dommage. We hopped a plane out of there tout de suite!

Glimmerglass 7:34 AM  

Great puzzle! It turned out to be on the easy side of medium for me, but it was fun anyway. Considering the challenge of constructing triple 16s, the fill was excellent. (I wasn't even bothered by MNEM). I don't watch Fox News (they lie), but I'd heard of Brit HUME. However, I didn't think of her. HUME is a famous British name, including a PM and the guy who changed the name's pronunciation (prounced "home" until a battle in which the army went home instead of rallying "to Home").

M and Also 7:37 AM  

Really liked that this Steinberg puz went ROEG, btw.


** road gruntz **

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

@wreck: What is a "cheat" as opposed to a cheat?
This was a great puzzle. I'm surprised Rex wasn't more upset about all of the drug paraphernalia: People ONPOT and ANGELDUST, ADRENALINEJUNKIEs. I was sure he'd complain about these kids and their attempts to be modern an hip in crossword puzzles.
@Molly @ 2:18--that's sort of the point, don't you think? You're not supposed to KNOW who is the youngest ALOU: you're supposed to get satisfaction from figuring it out.

This was a wonderful and satisfying Friday solve--this week is mostly getting better each day!

Brit Hume 8:06 AM  

"In this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old-fashioned tough guys, run some risks."

Dorothy Biggs 8:09 AM  

I looked up LASIK and I get:

L(aser) AS(sisted) I(n-situ) K(eratomileusis).

The S does not stand for "SITU," even though in-situ is in the acronym.

CLEFs don't technically start scores (any more than meter or key signatures)...so it's kind of arbitrary for that to be there. Brackets start scores.

I see that many here liked it. I didn't. It was easy, for sure...but 4D (@@@), 9D (Start of a score), 28D (Body resting in bed?), 29D (Noodle request), 46D (Preserves preserver), and 27A (Give to a bank)...all felt forced.

Like most other puzzles, "forced" clues are okay in moderation, but they add up to a critical mass of ugh...which for me, today's puzzle scored high on the ugh scale because of too many contrived, convoluted, forced clues.

r.alphbunker 8:11 AM  

I was off to a fast start getting the grid half-filled correctly in 30% of total solve time.

Stared at the top for 8 minutes before asking for what letters were wrong. I had tRAM for PRAM.

Once that was fixed I got HOTSPRINGS and that delivered ESCAPEMECHANISM which was a huge help. I then bogged down on the {Brit in the news} clue and what the S in LASIK stood for. Really wanted Kate and site. Loved it when I realized that Brit HUME was what was wanted. Post-googling I discovered that LASIK is an acronynm for Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis

Bob Kerfuffle 8:32 AM  

Loved it!

Easy-Medium for me.

I wondered as I turned to the blog if Rex would curse the whole thing as a case of a constructor showing off, with that 16x15 grid, even though I could see no compromise on quality. Glad Rex liked it!

Simple matters of opinion: I like a grid to be symmetric, unless it draws a Gorski-esque picture. Most non-symmetric grids remind me of a children's magazine or a cheap "shopper." (Full disclosure, I haven't seen any children's mag in decades, and they may have gotten better, and my local weekly shopper carries a very professional and satisfying themed puzzle by David Levinson Wilk every week.) But I can accept the occasional asymmetry, as has happened, for example, in the service of a Matt Gaffney meta.

But as a fan of the "anything goes" style puzzle, I have no use for the concept of "green paint" answers. If a phrase makes sense in any way, I accept it. Again, just a matter of taste.

joho 8:35 AM  

I absolutely LOVED this puzzle! The fact that it was a little bit easier than some Fridays made it all that much more enjoyable.

And, boy, has David come a long way in coming up with colorful, fun phrases. While he's always been technically correct now his grids are filled with interesting, fun answers like ADRENILINEJUNKIE, EASYTOUNDERSTAND, JAMJAR, ATINGLE and FEROCIOUS.

Way to do, David!

I wanted OCEAN where REEFS ended up but nixed it when OCEAN had to be the answer for "Body resting in bed?" Great clue!

Great puzzle!

AliasZ 8:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 8:48 AM  

Another prudish cheerleader today.

Great puzzle. mattyALOU held me back for a while though.

AliasZ 8:49 AM  

I liked how David Steinberg is trying to elbow in on MAS. And a 15x16 to boot. The reason I liked this was that there were no foshizzles, skrillexes or rappers in it, and there were only two druggie entries. The junk count is relatively low too, with a mere MNEM here, a JOTTER and AKEEM there, plus ATS and UNS, but NO MSG. ISTHMI looks weird, like totally, but it is an alternate of isthmuses.

The 16's were all pretty solid. Anyone who likens MONTE CARLO CASINO to green paint obviously hasn't set foot in Monte Carlo. What a shame. My favorites was LEMON MERINGUE PIE. I haven't had any for a long time. Maybe tonight. And ADRENALINE JUNKIE is cool too.

Oh dear JESUS, ALOU again?
GAS LOG -- is this anything like a belch diary? That's what Facebook is for.

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951) was a Harvard-educated American composer who studied with Edward Elgar and settled in Chicago as VP of his family shipping-supply business. One of his best known works is the impressionistic "Adventures in a Perambulator" or PRAM for short, composed in 1914 and revised/expanded in 1941. The recording in the above link is of the original 1914 version.


Nancy 8:55 AM  

I enjoyed this one so very much that I completely forgot I DNF. Was stymied at the MNE-/IST-MI/ -U-E/ crossings.

@wreck: My first long answer in was also LEMON MERINGUE PIE. I saw MONTE CARLO CASINO very early, but didn't write it in until later, until I had crosses. But once I had EMTS, ERLE and ACL, I was sure. I've been there and it's not green paint at all.

@Hartley70, (7:33 a.m.): I was at the casino in the '60s, a decade or more before you and my reaction was the opposite of yours. I'd already been to Vegas and it was there that I had seen the badly dressed, the needy and the desperate, spinning the wheel or throwing the dice as though their very lives depended on that one gamble, even though the bets were usually fairly modest. In Monte Carlo, I saw some fabulously dressed people looking bored beyond description as they gambled on one throw or spin an amount of money that could have covered three years of rent for most people. I found it decadent beyond belief, completely lacking in drama or suspense, and, in a way, unutterably sad. This may have been "glamorous", but Vegas had the vibe. I guess Monte Carlo changed a lot over that decade.

I was helped in this puzzle by my sports knowledge, but not as much as I should have been. I forgot JESUS ALOU, could only think of FELIX (and I had the E), but FELIX didn't fit. I would have known PEETE even if he hadn't just died.

Oh and one more thing: I couldn't solve the South, until I changed Doll to DAME. A delightful puzzle that was fun from beginning to end.

R. McGeddon 9:05 AM  

Bonus points that the SCARLET was a LETTER and not tanagers.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Liked it! I'm still at the point where most Fridays are challenging for me even when rated easy here, but with 3 strategically placed Googles I was able to wrestle the rest into submission.

I've never been to Monte Carlo but the casinos near me in CT are nothing like the glamorous ads on tv. A lot more sweatsuits than tuxedos.

I've often wondered why symmetry is the default structure in crosswords. Diagramless puzzles (of which there are too few in my opinion!) sometimes have top-bottom or left-right symmetry, or no symmetry but a cool picture made out of the black squares. I wouldn't mind if regular puzzles were like that sometimes too.

AnnieD 9:19 AM  

Of course, symmetry is most helpful when doing a diagramless....

chefbea 9:32 AM  

Too many comments to read...will read them later

Easy puzzle for a Friday. Got the pie answer off the L

Okra...again??? I never put okra in my stew, weather it needs thickening or not!!

Loren Muse Smith 9:32 AM  

@John Child – thanks so much for the update. I’ve forwarded it on to a social studies class because they’re following the news from Nepal.

David’s name at the top of the puzzle is always good for a pleasant adrenaline rush. Then it’s like, “Okie dokie. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it.”

@Steve J – I know, right? After an initial couple of passes around the grid, yielding only _ URLS (hi, @RAD2626) and OKRA, our new grid darling, it was so satisfying to plod along and finish.

I second @joho’s list of great entries!

Very early “of use” crossing “dog-eat-dog” before UTILE/FEROCIOUS.

I tell you what, MONTE CARLO CASINO sure is drawing all the green paint fire away from ON POT. Can you be ON ANGEL DUST, too? Sorry I used your kiln to bake my okra, man. I was on angel dust.

Funny – I do a mental eye-roll whenever someone uses a conspicuous, albeit correct, whom, but I’m every bit as guilty of trying to seem oh-so-smart and educated. I just choose different, even more obnoxious tail feathers. When I first learned in situ studying linguistics, I ran around for months looking for ways to deftly slip it into a conversation. Sheesh.

@jae – I bet you can appreciate this – we need some kind of mnemonic device to help us with remembering where to put the I in LIEN (and dais and bias).

@M&A - “Nobody noticed, tho. Ten minutes of extra work, down the drain...” I feel your pain. I usually plant an Easter egg or two when I write. But no one hears that tree fall…

“Ramen” for a “noodle request” yielded LEMON MERINGUE PIE. (Hey, I’ll take it.) Then I had *nothing* for quite a while, but DONATE had me erasing “ramen” and inferring NO MSG, largely with the serendipitous M in situ. Ahem.

That this was a 16x15 was totally lost on me. When the printer spits out a grid with any kind of stack, I hop to it with glee.

Thanks, David – really, really fun and satisfying.

OISK 9:36 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, even though I DNF at Roeg. And that was just carelessness. I never finished 11 down, and had "Hotssring," having tried "Shay" where Pram should have been. Ended up with "Sham" and "Hoeg," a two square DNF. For shame. As I often say at Belmont, Shuddahaddit. (The Derby is on my mind right now).

From "the Gondoliers," which @Nancy will be enjoying soon, "At middle class party I play at ECARTE and I'm by no means a beginner...." That is actually the only reference to that game I can ever recall!

Don McBrien 9:47 AM  

Nice puzzle. Stared at it for about 10 minutes before I found a way in, but once I did, it came together nicely.

Had to guess on ELLERY / LEES, but guessed right.

Still can't get LEES for "refuse at abar." Goolged it, but still not seeing it. Something left over from making drinks?

Also, can someone explain what you mean when you say an answer is "green paint?" Thanks!

April was brutal for me with DNF/errors in 15/30 puzzles, and that was with a streak of 7 succesful solves in a row to start the month. Even had my first Monday DNF of the year. I'm hoping those were just April showers and puzzles like today's are May flowers that will last all month!

Charles Flaster 9:54 AM  

@John Child-- super glad u r safe.

Leapfinger 10:02 AM  

I've just caught up on yesterday's comments, and am thoroughly impressed by how surname pronunciation was reviewed, rehashed and remonstrated over the course of the day.

It all served to put me in mind of a snippet I read long ago in a biography of EAPoe. [Rest assured that no spoilers are involved.]

Apparently, when EAPoe was writing The Caskof Amontillado, he thought to lend veracity to that most famous among his oeuvre, and engaged a local brickmason to brick up the opening to a catacomb-like space, in order to gauge the approximate duration of such an endeavor. Furthermore, to set the stage and increase the aura of this replication, he placed a life-sized dummy within the space. Poe was nothing ifnot detail-oriented.

Not long thereafter, EAPoe fell into one of his frequent periods of financial difficulty. (I don't think it's generally known that most of his fiction, written for magazines, earned him on the order of $10-15. Today's equivalent would be about ten times that.) Anyway, in order to tide him over the hard times, he felt forced to turn over the effigy of Fortunato to the local moneylender, though it had much sentimental value. That money kept his creditors at bay till the next story sold, so for that time, Poe found peace from the walled-in pawned.

Thank you, all. Time to see what Friday brings.

Nancy 10:02 AM  

@Don McBride -- I believe that GREEN PAINT was actually an answer in an old Times puzzle. And people said: Why GREEN PAINT? Why not RED PAINT or YELLOW PAINT or BLUE PAINT? In other words, a phrase has been created that's not specific enough, but seems random and manufactured just for the puzzle.

(Rex actually explains the phrase in today's blog. And it's been explained by various people here many times.)

quilter1 10:11 AM  

@John Child, thank you for the update and donation advice. Be well.
Really liked the puzzle. Mostly easy though some areas were a bit challenging. But, powered through. Very much enjoyed the long stacks.

Benko 10:11 AM  

@z: I don't see how my citation makes it worse, but I do agree that "Monte Carlo" is shorthand for the famous casino. In an example of crossword synchronicity, I used the words "Monte Carlo" to refer to the casino two days ago when discussing my friend's upcoming trip to the Riviera. I asked him if he wanted to go to Monaco in order to go to Monte Carlo--no, he said, he just wanted to visit Grace Kelly's gravesite.
But it refers to a district of Monaco which is most famous for the Monte Carlo casino as well. Kind of like the neighborhood Westminster in London is mostly associated with Westminster Abbey. Still seems legit to me.
3 and out, I'll let others debate this one from here.

Don McBrien 10:24 AM  

Thanks, Nancy. I must have missed Rex's asterisk or he added it after I read. Thanks!

chefbea 10:31 AM  

@John Child - just went back and read your post. Thanks for the up-date. Glad you are safe

paint it green 10:52 AM  

Rex on September 5, 2012:

"BEIGE PAINT = ouch. I only just learned the term "GREEN PAINT answer," which, in crossword-constructor-speak, is an answer made up of weak adj./noun pairing. TALL WOMAN, for instance, is not a good puzzle answer. It's certainly a phrase one might say, but it doesn't have enough coherence, conceptually, to be a good crossword answer. So, yeah, BEIGE PAINT is "green paint" for sure. Once I understood the theme (incl. the added dimension of the second letter's never being the letter represented by the vowel sound), I admired its ambition. But BEIGE PAINT is BEIGE PAINT. I mean, of all the ways to clunk ... if you're going to clunk, maybe don't clunk with an answer that is essentially the epitome of dullness."

grammar nazi 11:01 AM  

Chefbea@10:31: While I agree with your sentiment, it's "update." One word. No hyphen.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

16s were first stacked two years ago.

AliasZ 11:08 AM  

I thoreauly enjoyed your flight of fancy -- I almost fell for it too. Did you know I also found a piece of the walled-in pawned?

@Don McBrien,
Refuse is a noun, as in sediment or LEES.

LASIK stands for "Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis". I would love to see Keratomileusis in a NYT puzzle and be clued as "The 'k' of Lasik". How many people would get it without any crosses? I am betting on one.

Here is the closing Magnificat from "Vespro DELLA Beata Vergine" by Claudio Monteverdi. I just experienced the full impact of this magnificent piece last night at Carnegie Hall, performed by the same group as in the above clip (more-or-less), and I felt the urge to share it with those interested.

RnRGhost57 11:26 AM  

@John Child, thank you for the update and map. Good to see that you're safe.

Sandy 11:30 AM  


Sandy 11:33 AM  

Oh. It's a noun meaning
the sediment of wine in the barrel.
the most worthless part or parts of something.
"the lees of the Venetian underworld"

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Brit HUME is a guy- and one of the only guys who doesn't lie on Fox.

Picturing Daniel Craig in CASINO Royale! Definitely Not green paint!

Loved the puzzle! Mr. Steinberg is producing great puzzles!

chefbea 11:37 AM  

@Grammer nazi -I promise NEVER to make that mistake again

@alias Z I'll try to remember that word incase we ever have a clue for the K in lasik...lol

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

It's EASY TO UNDERSTAND that the MONTECARLOCASINO is in the METROPOLITAN AREA of, um , Monte Carlo. I am a FEROCIOUS ADRENALINE JUNKIE hopped up ON POT and ANGELDUST, and when I ACTUPON my smoking instincts there'd better be an ESCAPEMECHANISM that allows me to get to some LEMON MERINGUE PIE!

Steve J 11:50 AM  

@John Child. Thanks for the update. Good to hear that areas are starting to recover.

@Don McBrien: LEES are leftover bits of yeast and sediment that settle at the bottom of a vessel. Some unfiltered wines will have lees at the bottom of their bottles, as well as bottle-conditioned beers.

Trombone Tom 11:51 AM  

Excellent puzzle from Mr. Steinberg. A lot more challenging for me than for @Rex. As to Green Paint, I agree with @Bob Kerfuffle. Monte Carlo Casino is very explicit to me.

Lewis 11:59 AM  

This was a work of beauty -- gorgeous longs, terrific tricky cluing (so glad they didn't put a question mark on the clue for IDEA), only a small amount of junk fill. When you make a puzzle with triple stacks in the north and south and Rex praises it, it must be rare and wonderful.

Not as easy for me as for some of you, but when the longs started falling my smile kept growing. I remember the days when most of the comments re DS were negative, and over months and years, they've swung the other way. The scary part is that he will probably get better.

@questinia -- your tribute equation, IMO, is just short of accurate, but will one day -- and probably not too distant -- be right on the money.

Thank you for the update, John. As you can tell, so many of our hearts have gone out to you and those around you.

Arlene 12:06 PM  

@John Child - thanks so much for your update. It means a lot to us here to know you are safe, and learning about the situation directly, rather than from the news sources.
I got through this puzzle - and finished, albeit doing some strategic Googling. I was rather surprised to get those stacks, so now I realize why others found this easy.
As some have already mentioned, I found some of the clues forced - just a tad trying too hard to misdirect.
Perhaps the funniest is the insider crossword-solver clue - 40D. It's seeming to say that if you've gotten this far, you'll understand this clue.

old timer 12:10 PM  

I am trying to dredge out of my memory the first time I went in to the Monte Carlo Casino -- actually, the only time I think. I was 19 and on a bus tour of Europe led by a professor and his wife,and I think all the boys were required to pack a suit and all the girls a nice dress. One reason was, to visit the casino, which had a dress code. I think we must have gone first to our hotel in Mentone, had dinner, and then changed clothes to be bused back to the Casino. It was pretty impressive! And since the Casino is a real place, and Monaco is on the Riviera, the answer was Not Green Paint.

The puzzle was right in my wheelhouse. I got the Casino and ESCAPE- something at once, ERLE and MNEM gave me MECHANISM, and NAE gave the that notorious book.

I knew the "good night" character was from Shakespeare. Wanted "Hamlet" at first. ELIOT and FURLS gave me JULIET, which made it clear which of the ALOUs it was -- didn't everyone immediately think ALOU? I certainly did. I was tied up for a while in the bottom, having confidently written "jarlid" for JAMJAR, "Moll" for DAME, and wanted "clay" where KILN goes. The correct answers, plus ENID let me complete the puzzle

Very well made, Mr. Steinberg!

old timer 12:13 PM  

BTW, when I wrote JAMJAR I immediately thought of the Beatles for some reason.

pmdm 12:14 PM  

NCA President pointed out a bad error in one of today's clues. To further elucidate, non-tuned percussion instruments do not have clefs on their staves - they need none, since they don't produce a specific pitch. Think of a bass drum as an example. So a score written for only non-tuned percussion instruments would lack a clef in the entire score. And a small correction. If you look at, for example, the score for one of Bach's Partitas for Violin Solo, you will find that scores for solo instruments don't even contain a bracket (unless there is more than one stave, as in a piano score).

I fully agree with the write up in that increasing the grid to 16 spaces across opens up the puzzle to a lot of good entries that can't fit into a 15x15 grid. I would even prefer a 16x16 grid. And you can't argue it's not possible because of a space issue. I compared today's puzzle with yesterday's puzzle (in the dead tree version). Today's 16x15 puzzle was neither wider nor taller than yesterday's 15x15 puzzle. The squares were just a bit more narrow in today's puzzle. So, Mr. Shortz, keep them coming.

Z 12:17 PM  

@Benko - I think your intent was to show that MCC is a thing, which it is. But MONTE CARLO is so associated with the CASINO that CASINO is unnecessary. Therefore I felt your definition was evidence of the greenpaintiness, rather than evidence that it wasn't.

@John Child - Be safe. Let me second your suggestion to donate later, too. Recovery can be a very long process.

GeezerJackYale48 12:27 PM  

I struggled through this puzzle, and was pleased with myself when I finished it successfully. What a letdown when I see that Rex called it easy. Even worse, too many of the comments seem to have found it easy as well. I am shattered - and will now go into the garden and eat some worms.

weingolb 12:30 PM  

Can someone explain the role of the question mark in cluing?

In this puzzle, I found it inconsistent. It appears for clues involving some kind of wordplay or intended ambiguity, yet not for "Brit in the news," "Noodle product," "Street in Hollywood," or "Locales for many schools."

I started to assume that question marks are deployed to indicate an error in the clue: It's not "Things going 'to' your head" but rather things going 'on' your head.

@NCA President I agree about the clues you mention being forced. Another? "Brit in the news" when referring to Brit Hume has to be "Brit in news" or maybe "Brit on the news" ... "in the news" does have a specific meaning. To twist it as it is here, is forced.

GeezerJackYale48 12:41 PM  

Hey Weingolb: I agree with you. Sloppy? Don't know what to say about it. BTW, I wonder if Della Street's character has ever left TV to appear in movies (Street in Hollywood clue).

Leapfinger 12:49 PM  

@Alias, so you found a 'piece of the walled-in pawned'? That passeth understanding. Do you know how I feel about persons for whom it is necessary to pile Pelion on Ossa. That, however, is the LEES of my problems.

Surprised I am, that you bypassed PECS today.

@John Child, so glad to read you today; I was worrying. Thnx for that link: it shows 59 of 278 quakes in the Kathmandu area. Quite unimaginable. I don't know that relief disarray is unique to Nepal, remembering Haiti. And Katrina.

@Anony 1:37, truly eerie about PEETE. The noodle can come up with funny IDEAs: my first entry there was PEter.

@NCAPrez, @ralph, re Lasik -- there you go! I had it as Laser Assisted SURGery In situ Kerato...amanuensis?

@Questina, I HATed the clues for HATS and HALO, so I say you're exaggerating.

As @Benko notes, MONTE CARLO CASINO is not only not green paint, that specific institution is the main source of Monaco's GNP. My love affair with Monaco started with stamp-collecting and that wonderful set of Grimaldis, continued with Grace Kelly's marriage to the Rainier of the Grimaldis, andculminated with learning that the indiginous pop are termed Monegasques. Unfortunately, in today's puzzle, I messed up on that entry, first thinking it ended with something nice about --CAnnes, then more crosses making it look like --LOCAtion. That top trip-stack had me feeling like @CascoK on a particularly frustrating day. I even thought 'whisPErEd HiNtS to' was possible for [They'll help you out]. And that, dear puzzle peeps, ISTHMI reason that I did not findthis DS EASY TO UNDERSTAND.

That, and going ROEG.

AZPETE 12:59 PM  

Maybe he used to be one, but now that he's sold out to Rupert that's a stretch!

Forgetful Pest 1:00 PM  

MNEM tudom.

AZPETE 1:02 PM  

Sounds like every other casino I've been in!

AZPETE 1:04 PM  

She's a he.

AZPETE 1:13 PM  

I'll join you

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Since we had POO this week I was sure 22d ("Things going to your head") would be POOS.

Fred Romagnolo 1:47 PM  

@Geezer: same reaction to the Hollywood part of the clue. I did get it because I immediately got LEMON MERINGUE PIE. I'm pretty much with @NCA Pres, but I gotta (reluctantly) say thank God for a lack of rapper-culture this time from DS. I didn't read the Hawthorne 'til American Lit in college, which is the proper time for it, not Jr. High, or even High school. It's a great novel. I don't care how wide the puzzles are as long as the squares don't get too small in the paper version.

Fred Romagnolo 1:56 PM  

As to John Child and Nepal: I wanted to send a contribution, but have been for years frustrated by the fact that people who file the short form get absolutely no tax break for charity. Gov't says it's included in the general credit, but that also applies to those who don't give. So it's inherently unfair; I finally figured out a way to make it work: I gave a check to a good friend who files long-form and told him to donate that amount on his own (and more if possible) behalf and claim the credit. I don't get the write-off, but someone does and the money still goes to charity. We chose Doctors Without Borders. Ta Da!

Fred Romagnolo 2:00 PM  

For Nepal, of course.

Lewis 2:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 2:08 PM  

Factoid: The longest mountain range on Earth is under water. Called the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, this chain of mountains runs through the middle of the Atlantic OCEAN and into the Indian and Pacific oceans. It runs more than 35,000 miles long, has peaks higher than those in the Alps and it comprises 23 percent of the Earth’s total surface.

Quotoid: "Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles." -- George ELIOT

Bill P 2:20 PM  

@Rex SINCE YOU ASK! You ask what purpose “convention” serves, and I haven’t seen too many people speaking up in favor of convention. In fact, people, including yourself, seem ready to catch the adventurous spirit of doing away with all conventions — come what may. However, it seems to me conventions are essential to crosswords. Starting with, first, the clue-and-solution, second, the squares small and big. I apologize for stating the obvious but can we narrow things down a bit, and not say things like: Conventions???!!! What’s the point?!?!?!?

It is one of my conventions to do the New York Times puzzle (often), and then (always) follow up with “Rex Parker’s” excellent blog. If I don’t have those two particular conventions — I will switch to chess. So please don’t anybody disabuse me of not having the revolutionary spirit if I cling to a few conventions.

I have done billions of puzzles, but never on a computer, and I probably never will. I like to have a cup of coffee nearby for it to grow cold, because who has time to take a sip when I’m timing myself? Suddenly today I feel stupid for doing it on newsprint, but I am what I am. And I do like chess. Having sixteen squares squeezed into the NYTimes conventional puzzle-size makes a bigger difference than the geometry might indicate — it seems there is a limitation for those who use pencil or pen that must be somewhere around 17. Unless the Times is willing to respond.

Crosswords could learn from chess: Computers have had a few negative effects on the game of chess. One is that some kids who start playing chess on computers get lured away to go do other amazing computer games — depleting the ranks. And those kids who appreciate the “convention” of the little wooden sculptures of horses and castles are more likely to stick with it to the eventual enrichment of the game.

Traveling In Cognito 2:23 PM  

So if we're going to remember what the K standsfor in Lasik, we're going to need a MNEMonic.

So this Hansel&Gretel duo, a young brother and sister, had to carry a Very Heavy Package 26 miles to their wicked stepmother's house. Oddly enough, the mile markers were not numbered, but showed the corresponding letter of the alphabet, from Mile A to Mile Z. The two children struggled along,taking turns carrying this heavy parcel, and were resting at about the 2/3 point, trying to decide how they would break up the remaining distance from Mile P. (Don't even go there, OK?)
So the little boy pipes up and bravely says "I think I can KERA TO MILE U, SIS!"

That ought to do it.

Mette 2:36 PM  

@John Child - thank you for the update.

DNF exactly where @Nancy was hung up. Glad @Rex explained HUME. Really enjoyed this. First thought for baseball trio was Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Heck, yes, shake up the convention.

RooMonster 2:58 PM  

Hey All !
Haven't read comments yet, just finished puz and there's over 90 comments. Cracking up Rex found this easy. Took me quite a while, with thoughts of giving up many times. S actually easier than N. But, I persevered (sp?) and finished! Did miss a few correct answers though. :-( Couldn't get off of cURLS, so pieced together cERiCaOUS, second-to-last entry, at which point I didn't care, and just wanted to finish! So had that, and then last fill PaOLa. Oh well, happy to have 96%ish correct!

Not as enamored as Rex about the 16x15. Only think he likes it cause he likes Steinberg. If another constructor, might've had, "This puz is 16 for no reason..." Just sayin.


RooMonster 3:10 PM  

I once submitted a 17x17 puz to Will, had 4 themers and two rebused answers (the whole word),but Will responded back he doesn't accept that size puz.
Maybe if it was 17x15?


okanaganer 3:11 PM  

A notable feature of this puzzle grid is the four ISTHMI connecting the three zones of white. They often slow me down trying to cross them. Especially the one in the lower right, where I had ACTUATE instead of ACT UPON, completely blocking me out.

mathguy 3:17 PM  

Pretty easy but a lot of fun. The perfect way to start a vacation. We're in Myrtle Beach SC.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

Are all of your on this blog cross stitchers or something? 96 comments and no one questioning why ERTE is a crossword designer. I came here first and then had to google it.
Backed into Hume and thought "David Hume?" that's a stretch for being in the news. Yeah he was British in famous but...
Think UTILE is useless and some useful things are not always valuable...like a door shim. Am I wrong?

Wood 4:16 PM  

Found it easy for a themeless and got all 7 16's pretty quickly. Had more trouble in the middle, especially the PRAM/ROEG/FEROCIOUS/JULIET area. ISTHMI broke it open, but wow, ISTHMI?

Still... amazing work by Steinberg once again. Let's inaugurate a moniker for him. D-berg? The Boy Wonder? The Griddinator?

Wood 4:20 PM  

@Anon4:04: I balked at that at first too... then saw: Erte is a designer, and his name appears with disproportionate frequency in crosswords. Hence "Crossword designer."

Maruchka 4:33 PM  

Ah, late again. First question: Have earlier DS puzzles had an easy rating from @Rex? I agree that the middle and southern latitudes are balmy and navigable, northern was a maelstrom. THE SC(ho)L(ar) LETTER crossing HOT(st)RINGS crossing (t)RA(p)? Quel mess.

Liked the Perry Mason/Ellery Queen bits, plus any and all ALOU: "When the Giants come to baseball, it's 'bye, 'bye, baby!"

Fave of the day - FURLS. Feel good in mouth.

@John Child - Many thanks for the update. Shanti.

@chefbea, @LMS - OKRA can thicken, and is mildly laxative, too. Still hoping someone tries the HOT pickled variety in a Bloody Mary and reports back. I feel so alone..

Rug Crazy 4:58 PM  

See 59 down.

Ludyjynn 4:59 PM  

Every time I see it in a puzzle, I'll say it: OKRA sucks! Sorry, @Maruchka.

@John Child, thank you for the update and donation suggestions. We are all thinking of you.

Still laughing over Rex calling this one "Easy". DNF for me, although I enjoyed the battle. Esp. liked ERTE, BRIT, DELLA and NOMSG. Growing up, the red and white shaker of 'Accent' was ubiquitous in the kitchen. Can still picture Dad generously dousing the bbq burgers w/ it. Who knew this tasty 'seasoning' was comprised solely of MSG?!

I've read all of your arguments about MONTECARLOCASINO being or not being Green Paint. The jury (me!) is still out. Both sides have merit...

Thanks, DS and WS. I also appreciated the absence of rappers in the grid today.

Convention Central 5:07 PM  

...'sediment that settles at the bottom of a vessel'...

To date, I've never seen sediment settle anywhere other than at the bottom. Granted that that is not precisely the meaning of "to settle" in all cases; sometimes the meaning is merely a level lower than the possible, but the implication is always downward.

Anonym 4:04, I thought exactly the same about UTILE, and willgo sofar as to say we are right.

A Brit can be a 'she' if England is replaced by Ekland*, and throw in a little t. HUME was one of the good guys, and may still be, but I've just not seen him much since he turned vulpine.

Bet the folks in HOT SPRINGs Arkans are happy! The US of A has more of them in Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, NC and VA, but that 's reason to overlook Iceland, Italy, New Zealand et alia.

AKEEM Olajuwon? I think not.

Have to now go buy muzzles for my FEROCIOUS JAMJARS.

* Was she ever a cutie! Back in the day...

Teedmn 7:54 PM  

Totally easy Friday - until I tried the top third. I'm so with you @Leapfinger. In my desperation, I started thinking maybe 17A was referring to radiators in a Buick Riviera, but I held onto my conviction that it had to be more straightforward, due to the lack of a question mark. Started imagining that answer ended in CASINO and checking for crosses. ISTHMI finally fell and I was able to finish with no cheats but about ten minutes longer than usual.

(And "walled-in pawned" made me grit my teeth like I had just bit into overly tart LEMON MERINGE PIE - that one hurt!)

Thanks, David Steinberg and congrats on Stanford.

@John Child, please let us know, in a few weeks, where the need remains. I want to donate, and was leaning towards Habitat for Humanity because surely housing will be a real issue for many, but didn't want to throw money in when there might be bigger holes somewhere else. Glad to hear there begins to be some semblance of normality.

michael 8:01 PM  

I remember David Steinberg's earliest puzzles as being really obscure, hard, and not much fun. His puzzles have become steadily more enjoyable. This one -- aside from being enjoyable - was downright easy.

kitshef 11:42 PM  

Just when I think I've got Rex figured out, he surprises me. I've gotten so used to rants about stacks that I assumed he'd hate this puzzle. How wrong I was. I thought the puzzle was fine, but thought last Friday's was an absolute gem, and Rex panned that due to stacks.

One thing that seems to be consistent is my easy is Rex's challenging and vice versa. This one was right on the edge for me - about as hard as it can possibly be for a puzzle that I do, eventually, finish. Could not get any traction in the top until HUME came to me, which then got me ISTHMI (showing me that neither tRAp nor dRAy was correct). After than I was able to slowly chip away. But I was perilously close to having a DNF with virtually the entire first three rows empty.

I solve by looking at 1A, and if I can't get that move in order through the across clues until I get something. My first fill 41A. Could not get any of the crosses from there, so continued through the rest of the across clues, getting none of them, then started on the downs. Got 4D, then 8D, but no help on the long crosses. Continued with the downs until, finally, got 49D, then finally my first successful cross with 49A. And from there, was able to actually get moving.

Needed every cross for ERTE, and had no idea why it was right until I came here.

Needed every cross for APO and still have no idea why it is right. Google let me down (seems like it should have been GPO).

Strangely, it seems like other than APO, all the bad fill is in the non-stack areas, which I expect to be cleaner (ERTE, JOTTER, GASLOG (is that even a thing?), ROEG).

Joanie Come Lately 7:48 AM  

...'sediment that settles at the bottom of a vessel'...

To date, I've never seen sediment settle anywhere other than at the bottom. Granted that that is not precisely the meaning of "to settle" in all cases; sometimes the meaning is merely a level lower than the possible, but the implication is always downward.

Anonym 4:04, I thought exactly the same about UTILE, and will go so far as to say we are right.

A Brit can be a 'she' if England is replaced by Ekland*, and throw in a little t. HUME was one of the good guys, and may still be, but I've just not seen him much since he turned vulpine.

Bet the folks in HOT SPRINGs Arkans are happy! The US of A has more of them in Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, NC and VA, but that 's reason to overlook Iceland, Italy, New Zealand et alia.

AKEEM Olajuwon? I think not.

Have to now go buy muzzles for my FEROCIOUS JAMJARS.

* Was she ever a cutie! Back in the day...

Anonymous 9:17 AM  


Yes indeed, GASLOG is a thing; it's one of the more advanced ideas of a artificial substitute to something that works quite wonderfully in its natural state. Beloved by people averse to any kind of mess, and fortunately only available tp those who have natural GAS, ahem.

No help from here with APO. Or GPO.

I would be in big trouble if I tried to solve your way: I work a section at a time, since I find that having even 1 or 2 letters in place can give a hint for the crossing entry (if the initial entries are right, of course.) Once a section starts to get going, the pace really snowballs, unless some real bugbears are thrown in the works. My perspective is that this lets some entries act as partial clues to their crosses, rather than going so long with each entry being a stand-alone solve. If I were a much better solver, I'd try across-only or down-only solves, but I know I need all the help I can get!!


Anonymous 3:38 PM  

I always sensed the if David S ever stopped with all the pop culture trivia, proper nouns and his personal interests, he might rise to a great level, but I despaired of his ever changing. Wow!!!! This is the kind of puzzle PB used to offer regularly until he went into his current slump. No objectionable clues or stretches (there's nothing wrong at all with "Monte Carlo Casino"), tons of highly-challenging disguised clues, and no need for Googling at all (I finished without Googling.) I know a puzzle is good when I look at it and think "I'll never get anywhere with this", then come back later and get a few, then keep coming back every few hours. That means the answers are gettable but the clues are so beautifully disguised that you have to come at them fresh, which for me often me taking a long break. Best puzzle in 6 months, keep it up David, this is the path you should be on, not the pop culture trivia tests.

rondo 10:12 AM  

Haven’t read any other posts, so no outside influence here. Like many DS puzzles, it seemed unsolvable until it wasn’t. First substantial fill was thhe PIE in the middle, then worked some downs and then from the bottom up. Started to fill in fElipe until I ran out of room for ALOU and then naturally came to JESUS.

JULIET must be the Shakespearean yeah baby?

I seem to recall Brett Favre as pitchman for LEES jeans.

Mini drug theme ONPOT and ANGELDUST. What up with that DS?

Often feel like a PROLE with my following sports so much and lotto participation. I know the lotto isn’t a viable retirement strategy, but it may be the only chance for me.

Not so afraid of DS puzzles anymore, but always seem to be a good wrangle.

Burma Shave 10:36 AM  


It’s EASYTOUNDERSTAND that Hester was NOT merely a petter,
she would ACTUPON her urges and earn THESCARLTLETTER.


spacecraft 11:05 AM  

Oh, how I hate it when OFL calls a puzzle like this "easy." Yer fulla s**t, big guy, and yer HATS don't fit. When I came out at the end of this, I thought I'd swum the English Channel.

For some time I had nothing. Nada. Finally settled on HATS/HALO, got the west and then the PIE stuck a "wedge" into the center. I despaired of getting any farther after putting in the "obvious" cURLS for "Rolls up." What in Tophet was CEROC....? It took an unbelievably long time to see FEROCIOUS and, of course, FURLS. Center done.

Thence downward, where I thought my athlete was some kind of inLINE skater. Then, always remembering to turn my brain sideways, I saw that the noodle product was simply an IDEA. Then the rest was EASYTOUNDERSTAND--but that's a long way from the whole puzzle being "easy."

The top was the worst. I tried MONTECARLOmonaco, but the NE wouldn't jell. And I've even BEEN to the MONTECARLOCASINO. Stone floor; no rugs. When I was there, anyway, in the '60s. Last letter was the H of ISTHMI; who knew the plural was Latinized?

A big fat WHEW! for a full-bore challenging puzzle, and one of those A's (not necessarily SCARLET) for young Mr. Steinberg.

BS2 4:02 PM  


JULIET donned her SHEER nightie,
it MADE me ATINGLE, that thing,
that little SORE PANE became mighty,
it ISTHMI favorite thing.


rain forest 4:59 PM  

Started this one late, and took roughly forever to finish, my last entry at the CNET/SOT cross. SOT=fool? I know I'm a sot, but no fool am I.

I got ERTE, but I don't understand why it/he fits the clue.

Somewhat humbled that so many say they found this easy, and in some cases, 'too easy'. Just plain challenging for me, even with the PIE entry and the last 16 both being virtual gimmes.

Overall, though, a good puzzle, very tough, but satisfying to finish, complete with a nice poem by BS2.

leftcoastTAM 7:56 PM  

I like it that David Steinberg is moving toward more solvable puzzles. He has frazzled me too often. Today was a good day, and like @rain forest, I appreciated the artistry of BS, both the couplet and the six line sextrain.

longbeachlee 8:54 PM  

Am I the only one who had a hard time giving up on George Sands and Elmore Leaonard?

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

Very late to the game but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I said before and repeat: Getting to like Mr. Steinberg. Used to see his name and throw the puzzle in the trash. Every square fell into place and it seemed to help that I worked from right to left. I definitely rate this one EASY.

Thanks young David. Stop by for coffee anytime.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA, Where all the women are ugly, the men handsome, and the children brats. Also, Capitol of wild macaws, parakeets, parrots within the 48 States.

Mellisa Thomas 9:44 PM  

I'm Mellisa Thomas; My husband just came back home after leaving me for so long. I can't explain this but I just have to share my joy and happiness with the world I don't know how Dr Ihunde helped me in bringing back my husband. I have been frustrated for the past 6 years with my 3 kids in a marriage of 19 years after my husband had left me for no reason, all i did every day was to cry. One faithful day a friend of mine came visiting and I told her about the situation i have been for years now, she then told me about a very powerful man called Dr Ihunde Spell Temple. that he is a very powerful man, at first I never wanted to believe her because I have spent a lot going to different places but she convinced me, so I had no choice because I really need my husband back. So we contacted Dr Ihunde who told me all I needed to do and i give him a trial. But the greatest joy in me today is that Dr Ihunde was able to bring my husband back to me after years of not even taken my calls. and now we are living happily as never before. Thanks to Dr Ihunde. If you have problems of any kind I will advise you to contact him via his email: (ihundespelltemple@gmail.com) or call him +2349055637784.

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